USN Lower School Technology!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

End of April

This last week in April 3rd graders are completing an "Internet scavenger hunt" (partnering two by two for cooperative work--see pic) for country-specific facts at the InfoPlease Almanac. 4th graders are getting in some end-of-year Keyboarding4Kids before I compile reports to send on to the Middle School administration. Kindergarteners and 1st graders visit the NOGGIN website for animated fairytales while 2nd graders finish up a simple PowerPoint slideset on their own species ("The Amazing Life of a Scott" would be my title) toward repeating the exercise in a PowerPoint about insects in May. Never a boring moment!

Mr. M.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

More April Happenings

Hey, all,

This'll be a brief one. My house is going on the market this week and there are a bunch of things happening on the Vanderbilt Center for Science Outreach front so I'm just all aswirl. The students in the lab are doing all sorts of things this week, as usual (new, different="as usual!").

4th graders are looking at tutorial resources on the Webliographer, in the hope that they will turn to those as they come upon features of Microsoft Word that they might need some help with. Especially valuable is the VTC site, which offers manymany screengrab/audio tutorials for free.

3rd graders are exploring Webliographer sites that have to do with the particular Asian country their class is studying. The sites on Japan, China, Korea, and India provide rich resources that will inform the scrapbook writing the students are doing these weeks.

2nd graders get their feet wet with PowerPoint, modifying a template about themselves in the same form they'll be creating one about their insect of choice in the coming weeks. This is a very basic "click to highlight -> type to replace" kind of exercise, but it's fun for them and has some interesting peripheral learning attached, including basic manipulation of . Mr. Merrick says, "Think how much easier this would be if you really learned to type, and remember that when we start to learn home-row key position soon!!!

1st graders and Kindergarteners are continuing exploration of, the marvelous literacy-building site. In slightly different ways, we're all exploring the "2. Learn to Read" section. During the into each student gets to help complete the first activity on the smartboard, completing simple "_an" and "_at" words and seeing and hearing them chunked and combined, then each explores the site on his/her own at her/his computer.

Dat's it for this week, tune in next!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Staying busy!

Wow. We are sooooooooooooo busy in the computer lab. Let's do this post starting with the first class in, every morning, the 3rd grade.

3rd graders watched a 6 minute segment on the geography of Asia and the Pacific from our online educational movie source, United Streaming. Before watching the movie, however, we used the smartboard to work through the "K" and "W" sections of a "KWL" (what we Know about the topic, what we Want to learn, and what we Learned). KWL is a classic classroom tool many teachers utilize in the classroom with chartpaper, but the beauty of using the smartboard is that the resulting document can easily be saved and captured. View the one created by one classroom by clicking here. And see Mr. Amore completing his class's KWL here. After the video we completed the Learned section and did a little keyboarding with TypetoLearn3 or Keyboarding for Kids.

4th graders watched a 20 minute movie from about immigration, a Chinese immigrant's description of what the term means, scripted in the form of letters to his grandaughter who is immigrating. A wonderful watch, it is filled with photos and video examples from the periods described. We did a modified KWL by viewing the movie and then recording comments and things learned on a blank document on the smartboard. Then it was off to keyboarding practice.

Kindergarteners follow the 4the graders into the lab, and this week I introduced to them (and to the 1st graders who would come in a bit later) a "new" website I discovered this past week on an educator's discussion board at It's now "Center Number 4" at my K1 Go Here! K-1 portal site. Brimming with fun, sound, developmentally scaled activities relating to reading and writing, we'll be visiting this site often. I was very pleased when one Kindergartener shared that she already visited the site often on her home computer! Before sending the classes off to their computers to explore on their own (discovery is good!) we helped clean up the Earth, getting ready for upcoming Earth Day, April 22, at's fabulous site. There's a very quick little .wmv movie file of that set of experiences here (firebug users might need to open with Internet Explorer.

1st graders did all of the above and starting on Tuesday we also visited the Elephant Sanctuary website, in response to their wonderful in-school experiences with a representative from that fine institution.

2nd graders are creating business cards using an Avery template in Microsoft Word. I hope that you all will enjoy these during the classroom business day! I was listening to a podcast last week from Connect-Learning and heard a teacher interviewed who praised one of her at-risk HS students for creating his own business card; and I'm pleased that our 2nd graders have had that experience early. The "peripheral learning" that happens is a good foundation for future work.

Shewwww! Long post. 'Til next time!


Monday, April 03, 2006

TAIS Technology Institute with Ian Jukes

A stimulating day at Harpeth Hall . It's the 2006 Tennessee Association of Independent Schools' Technology Institute, New Visions for Teaching and Learning. I attended along with a number of other USN educators, including Mackey Luffman, Kathy Weiczerza, Penny Phillips, Mary Ann Lentz, Jake Wilson, David MacLean and Karen Knox. Our stalwart director, Vince Durnan, was also in attendance for some of the conference.

After a thought-provoking keynote address by educational curriculum maven Ian Jukes, I walked across the beautiful campus to a new lecture hall in order to sit in on another hour of Ian's dynamic infoshare, this one entitled "Understanding Digital Kids: Teaching and Learning in the New Digital Landscape." I slapped together a quick .wmv video (taken with a webcam, so it's a bit grainy, but "GE"--Good Enough. Firefox users right-click and "Open Link Target in IE") that briefly describes my impressions of Ian, who graciously granted permission for audio/video usage with the comment I love to hear, "Use whatever you want to use," and he frequently commented--during his long day of back-to-back presentations--"Creativity is just plagarism from several sources." Hmmmmmm. Sounds alot like folk music! Caution: Jukes warned us at the outset that he would be aiming to unsettle us. The video exemplifies his energetic plea for change.

Jukes's website
features dozens of comprehensive downloads (see "Handouts") and links that support his call for a radical new approach to teaching and learning. While his comments and entreaties during the keynote and the two workshop sessions I attended generally fell under the heading "projects-based learning," he went a few steps further than other presenters I've witnessed, by sharing several websites that offer vast resources for the PBL educator, including the George Lucas Foundation and His blog is also quite impressive, regularly featuring his top 10 Internet articles for like-minded educators. Does this guy ever sleep!? Comment here if you wish!